Charles Van Gelder Jr.
Charles Harold Van Gelder, Jr
February 17th, 1930--October 25th, 2022
Charles "Charlie" Van Gelder, a lifetime Middletown resident, passed away peacefully at home with his family by his side following a short, courageous battle with cancer that he handled with grace and humor. He was 92.
Charlie was the son of Margaret (Kimiecik) and Charles Van Gelder, Sr. and was born on February 17th, 1930 in Goshen, NY. He had a close relationship with his brother, Herb, who served and retired from the Air Force and passed away in 1999. He spent his early childhood growing up on a farm where he developed a strong work ethic that played an important role throughout his life. He was part of a large extended Polish family on his mother's side and enjoyed many family gatherings with them in Florida, NY. He graduated from Middletown High School in 1948 and was a top athlete in both football and baseball.
He met the love of his life, Mary (Cortese) Van Gelder while they were in high school, and they were married for almost 70 years until her death in April, 2021. They had three children, Barbara, Margaret and Charlie III. His family was at the center of his life. He adored his children, four wonderful granddaughters, and his daughter and son-in laws. Charlie had an opportunity to meet his great grandson this past July during a special road trip to Tennessee he took with his daughter Margaret and son-in-law to visit his son. When his oldest daughter Barbara was born with Down Syndrome, he joined forces with his wife Mary supporting and assisting in advocacy efforts to gain access to community services and equal education for children with disabilities. These experiences had a huge impact, strengthening his commitment to acceptance and respect for everyone. A lesson he learned, "generosity always prevails," is one he carried throughout his life.
In 1948, at the age of 18, Charlie started working at Kassel Brothers, the beginning of his 42-year career in the retail clothing business. Starting as a stockboy he moved up into different positions until his promotion to Senior Vice President which he held for over 30 years until 1990. His warm, friendly personality and great sense of style made him a favorite of customers and he truly enjoyed the interaction and assistance he could provide. He became an active member of the business community and during his time there he created great friendships with customers and colleagues alike, some of them lasting a lifetime. He ended his work career as a Court Officer with the New York State Unified Court System, a position he was introduced to by his lifelong friend, Judge Angelo Ingrassia. He worked there for 16 years until his retirement in 2008, providing a positive presence and establishing great relationships with co-workers and colleagues.
Charlie served with the National Guard in the 1950's earning the rank of Sargent. He was an active member of the community being involved with a variety of organizations over the years. He was a member of the Middletown Rotary Club, serving as President during part of his tenure, and the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Club for more than 60 years. Charlie coached Little League baseball for many years, (serving in leadership roles on the Board) as well as Pop Warner football. He was a volunteer fireman with Excelsior Hook & Ladder and continued his service in some capacity for over 73 years. His faith was important to him and he was a life-long parishioner at St Joseph's Church with his wife until her passing and enjoyed his volunteer work as an usher.
Charlie was a terrific athlete and huge sports enthusiast. He was an outstanding bowler (he once rolled a 300 game) and was elected to the Middletown Bowling Association Hall of Fame. He played competitive softball for many years, but his true love was found in the game of golf, introduced to him by his long-time friend and work associate, Bud Kassel. He took great pride in being a member of the Orange County /West Hills Golf Club for over 70 years. In fact, he was the oldest and longest standing active member up until his death. Among his many accomplishments include shooting "hole in one's," a record-setting low score of 67 in 1985, runner-up in the Club Championship four times, and winning the prestigious Roskin Team Championship as well as several other tournaments. He was well known for his low handicap. He played the game right up to the last few months of his life. To say he was a good golfer would be an understatement; he was legendary, and very proud that he was shooting better than his age as of the last golf season. He most enjoyed the camaraderie with his good friend Gil Boyd and his many golfing partners on and off the course, including the "19th hole." These times provided some of his best moments with friends. He was considered a mentor to many, full of wisdom and patience, and was never afraid to speak the truth and give you a kick in the back-end when he felt you needed it. He enjoyed having a scotch with the guys, along with his story-telling and practical jokes, but it was also important to Charlie to keep everyone involved with his human touch.
After his marriage to Mary, he became part of a large extended Italian family, which he fully embraced and thoroughly enjoyed. He played an integral role in the lives of his many nieces, nephews, and their children, to whom he was simply known as "Uncle Charlie." He was never at a loss for words or actions in providing unending support. The Lincoln Street barbecues, card games, and socializing on porches and backyards provided the greatest of memories and life's special moments. In his later life, he also enjoyed reading and gardening along with his golfing, and "happy hour" with family and friends.
Charlie had an enjoyment and enthusiasm for life that radiated to others. He was a loyal, thoughtful, and generous friend. He had a good sense of humor, enjoyed "pulling your leg," and had a hearty laugh that could be heard across any room he was in. He was a huge fan of the New York sports teams, especially the Yankees and Giants. He was well-liked and respected and was grateful for a long life, rich with wonderful family, friends, good times and terrific memories.
He is survived by his daughter Margaret, her husband William of West Newton, MA; their daughters Liz of Franklin, MA and Sarah of Roslindale, MA; his son Charlie, his wife Lynne of Scottsdale, AZ & Winchester, TN, their daughters Sienna, her husband Aaron Windsor and their son Elijah of Nashville, TN, and Vanessa of Phoenix, AZ.
The family would like to acknowledge and thank Dr Robert Dinsmore for his extraordinary care and friendship over these many years. Our thanks and appreciation also go to Dr Eanelli for his supportive care and treatment during his battle with cancer, and to the Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties, whose service and compassion was always abundant.
The family expresses our deepest gratitude and love to cousins Ruth and John Zuclich for their unending support, care, and companionship throughout these past few years when he needed local family by his side, and to our cousin Marion Howarth who unselfishly came to assist during his final weeks.
Visitation hours will be held on Sunday November 6, 2022 from 2-6 P.M. at the Ralston-Lippincott-Hasbrouck-Ingrassia Funeral Home, Inc. 72 West Main St. Middletown, N.Y.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Monday November 7, 2022 at 11 A.M. in St. Joseph Church 149 Cottage St. Middletown, N.Y. and will be livestreamed at the following link: https://my.gather.app/remember/charles-h-van-gelder-jr
Burial will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery Middletown, N.Y.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Charlie's memory can be made to the First Tee Charity (www.firstteemetny.org), the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (www.mdsc.org), or an organization of your choice.
Arrangements by Ralston-Lippincott-Hasbrouck-Ingrassia Funeral Home, Inc. www.ocfuneralhomes.com or 845-343-6023.